…a smoldering wick he will not snuff out… – Isaiah 42:3
I love to burn candles, especially ones with deep, earthy, soul-quieting fragrances. The other night, just before I went to sleep, I blew out the candle that had been burning brightly by my bedside. But that candle didn’t go out immediately, or entirely, for a long time. And I was so happy that it didn’t.
From that smoldering wick, circling rings of smoke went up, filling my nose and filling the room with a fragrance that seemed even stronger than when the flame was fully burning. And it made me think of how God likens the burning of incense – with its rising, fragrance-filled smoke – to the prayers of His people.
It is often when we come nearly to the end of ourselves that we finally choose to turn our heads, hearts and habits to God. It is often when we are almost completely burned out that we will humbly and honestly lift our prayers, our concerns, our fears and our hopes to God.
In our circling – and often feebly formed – prayers, we are seeking God. Seeking God’s help. Seeking God’s forgiveness. Seeking God’s love. Seeking God’s mercies. Seeking God’s hope. Seeking God’s peace. Seeking God’s will. Seeking God’s way and truth and life. And our Holy, Sovereign God never turns us away when we seek Him sincerely. Our God never turns His back on us when we humbly and honestly seek Him with all our hearts.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD… – Jeremiah 29:12-14
Our God will be found by us as our humble prayers circle up to Him. As our hearts seek Him. Our God will hear us and be with us. Our God will show us His love and compassion. Our God will forgive us. Our God will help us and give us His hope. Our God will reveal His way and truth and life to us. No matter how sinful or shameful we have been. No matter how broken or burned out we are. Our God will hear us. Our God will breathe in our fragrance-filled, humble and honest prayers. And our God will answer us.
Our God knows how frail, flawed and finite we are. There is no shame in those truths – unless we let them keep us from truly seeking God with all our hearts. It is in accepting the humble truth that we are each just smoldering wicks – each of us in need of our God who is the eternal light and consuming fire – that we are set free to offer our hearts’ fragrance-filled prayers to our loving and holy God.
Our merciful and compassionate God will not snuff out the smoldering wicks of our lives or our prayers. Rather, our life-giving, life-saving, life-transforming God will rekindle, renew and reshape our lives with the light and fire of His Holy Spirit. Our God will take our circling prayers and answer them with His unfailing love, His resurrection power and His intimate knowledge of who we are and the deepest needs we have burning in our souls.
Our God will take the smoldering, fragrance-filled prayers of our hearts and answer them with eternity’s joy.